By Cherry Simpson
Why does God allow evil to prevail in this world? It’s an eternal question, which means it’s not likely we’ll be able to answer it, in this lifetime.
Victoria Joelle Larson was born Feb 8, 1969. Her mother Dora Larson told me ”Vicki had a beaming smile, sunlit, she was my special gift from God, a sweet, giving, innocent child.” Dora had so many hopes and dreams for her little girl; dreams for a long and happy life together, and a future.
On July 12, 1979, Vicki was walking home after her brother’s little league game in the tiny town of Andover, IL. It was then Evil crossed Vicki’s path - his name was Scott Darnell. He was someone she knew, he visited his grandparent’s often, he’d been to Vicki’s house, and Vicki knew he had a crush on her older sister. Darnell led Vicki into a desolate cornfield, where, he had dug her grave three or four days earlier.
Scott William Darnell had dreams too, but his dreams are every parent’s worst nightmare. When 15-year-old Scott Darnell moved in with his grandparents in May 1979, he brought with him a history of molesting children and other violent acts. While still in grade school, Darnell established a pattern of molesting young girls. He later threatened a girl with a knife, tried to rape a 10-year-old girl, and assaulted staff members at juvenile facilities where he was assigned. In fact Scott had been housed in every juvenile facility in IL at the time of his parole. (The state called it a summer release.)
A psychiatrist would testify a year later that Darnell was “a homicide waiting to happen.” The system knew Darnell dreamed of raping and murdering little girls. And yet they released him into a community who had no knowledge what he was or what he had done or dreamed of doing. They were not allowed to protect their little girls from this monster.
Darnell knew in this little town of just 600, he’d be able to make his dreams a reality. He’d already found his victim; he’d been to her home. Her parents trusted him because they didn’t know what he had done or what he was capable of. The law was actually on his side - protecting him, and in a sense helping him, to commit his next crime - only this time he added murder to the mix.
In planning Darnell gathered wooden stakes with leather straps to bind her while he tortured her, he conveniently placed this right next to the shallow grave he dug. Now all he had to do was to lure her into the cornfield. He did that with the promise of a pony. Once she was there his dream became a sick reality. Darnell was at least twice Vicki by size and weight. He knew it wouldn’t be difficult for him to subdue her. Darnell forcibly raped and killed little Vicki, torturing her and strangling her then throwing her little lifeless body into that shallow grave like she was yesterday’s trash.
Why did he do it? To fulfill his sexual needs. Darnell had already established a pattern of sexual deviance and possessed the character traits - criminal, narcissistic, he lacked guilt, remorse, empathy and compassion. All this had been well documented in his psychological exams while housed in the juvenile facilities prior to his release in May 1979.
On Friday July 13, 1979 Vicki’s body was found. (Daily Herald Story) Darnell confessed, he was found guilty and sentenced to 30 yr’s for the rape and given natural life for the murder. The verdict came on what should have been little Vicki’s 11th birthday.
At 18 Darnell was to be sent to an adult prison. He has never shown guilt, remorse or sadness for his actions. Darnell devalues Vicki’s rights and over values his rights, he is indifferent to and or aroused by the pain, suffering, injury or humiliation he did to Vicki.
It’s now 30 years later and Scott Darnell inmate #N42540, is now age 46- a Buddhist who calls himself Legion - is an example of true evil in this world.
In a failed attempt to escape prison (the rules don’t apply to him) officials found this letter in his cell. Darnell even in prison, continues to dream of rape and murder. He cares nothing for the murder of Vicki he even misspells her name.
Through the years Darnell has made notoriety, based on him being a criminal in for life- by writing for various Buddhist publications such as (but not limited to) Tricycle, Turning Wheel, Shambhala Sun and Buddhadharma: The Practitioner’s Quarterly. His copyrighted article entitled “Meeting Myself in the Cell House” was published in The Best Buddhist Writing 2005. Darnell writes about no remorse for his horrendous crimes, in fact he is less than honest in his description of why he is prison at all. Making it sound like one big horrible mistake. These writings are more evidence he has not accepted responsibility for the rape and murder of the 10 yr old child Vicki Larson nor is he remorseful or repentant even after 30 yrs in prison.
What criminals count on is forgetful memories, dead victims and a lack of knowledge of the crime. Just as Darnell has attempted to rewrite history the Internet can be used to remind people of the truth and facts. The truth and facts of this case are, that Scott Darnell is a repeat sexual pedophile and child murderer.
He does not ask for forgiveness in any of his writings. He does talk about himself and how he’s had a bad life (You see he is more important). He blames his mother who died of diabetes when he was 7. Never once does he say he was a repeat sexual pedophile and child murderer. When Darnell chants “No more victim, No more victim”, I am convinced he is speaking of “himself the victim.”
In stark contrast to the evident EVIL found in Darnell I am amazed at the GOOD found in Vicki’s mother, Dora Larson. Dora is a wonderful example of a good mother and proves that - in her life’s work - by not letting her little girl’s murder be in vein.
Dora was the founder and executive director of the Protecting All Children Together (PACT) coalition. She sacrificed much to help other children who had been victims of sexual abuse. Think about how hard that must have been for Dora to endure - how many times her thoughts would be brought back her own little girl’s suffering. She didn’t stop there - Dora in 1997 then headed up the Victims Services Unit in the Department of Corrections. You see Dora had the empathy and the understanding and she backed it up with her service for others. Now Dora is officially retired but still helps others as she is the Vice President of Illinois Victims. Over the last 30 years Dora has helped to pass many laws protecting victim rights. Dora is a woman I am so proud to know. She makes me want to be a better person and a better mother. When I think of Dora, I think of God’s love. What is love? Love is actions and that is Dora - she is “God’s Love in action.”
Dora wrote a letter to Darnell, she wanted him to know God would forgive him, if only he would repent - if he would ask for forgiveness and come to faith in Jesus, he too could go to Heaven. Dora knows Justice belongs to God and God is a just God.
In return, true to his EVIL self, Darnell wrote Dora a 4 page-scathing letter telling her “How dare you ask ME if I believe in God.” He then used Dora’s letter against her - by falsely presenting it to the Prison Review Board as proof that his victim’s mother wanted him to go free. Remember Darnell can’t spell Vicki’s name right, or write about her or what he has done to her, or say he’s sorry for what he’s done. He doesn’t like God and he calls himself “Legion.”
In Sept of 2008 Darnell filed another petition for executive clemency asking for a pardon from his 30-year sentence for rape and commutation of his life sentence for murder to time served. In his letter he changed his crime (including changing the murder and forcible rape to the name of "it"). He also claims to be a model prisoner. (It’s helpful there are no 10 or 11-year-old little girls in prison.)
Darnell deserved the death penalty for the heartless murder of this 10-year old girl. If he had been put to death, he could not make threats on other innocent people or write books from jail. Dora doesn’t want any other little girls graves to be dug or raped or killed by Darnell.
To paraphrase one of Dora’s favorite old saying, evil triumphs when good men (and women) do nothing. Will you help to keep all little girls safe and join us in writing the Governor and the Illinois Prisoner Review Board? Please ask that Scott W. Darnell be denied all clemency. Write to: Illinois Prisoner Review Board, 319 E. Madison St., Suite A, Springfield, Ill., 62701. And/or contact Governor Pat Quinn, 207 State House, Springfield, IL 62706.
All of us have trouble dealing with such evil - and I think our society has an even harder time dealing with it. It is my opinion that our society does not like to admit the presence of true evil. We like to think that all people are basically good . . . or at least have some good in them. But there are some people whom M. Scott Peck, a famous author, calls "People of the Lie" who have given themselves over to evil, whom the devil controls completely.
Darkness is powerful and prevalent. It surrounds us. However, it cannot extinguish the light. Even when murderers and rapists deprive us of life, we have life in God's Son. Little Vicki and her brave Mother Dora know. He gives us eternal life. He frees us from all suffering. Others can take our "body and life" but they cannot take the faith that is in our hearts. They cannot take our Savior away from us - no matter how cruel or awful they may be. We have victory in Jesus. Jesus said to his disciples hours before he was to be beaten, flogged and crucified, "In this world you will have trouble, but take heart I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). We also have the promise, "Our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us" (Romans 8:18). As bad as things get here - and I cannot think of anything worse than a precious 10-year old girl being raped and murdered - the wonder of heaven will be far greater. Dora looks forward to her happy reunion with her child and an eternity of perfect happiness one day in Heaven.
Dora keep that light shining your light has strengthened my faith and countless others. What a wonderful reward you will have in heaven. “The spirit of the dead will survive in the memory of the living.” A memorable quote from the movie The Mission.
"The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it" (John 1:5)